The Partial Deafness Treatment Program was created by Prof. Henryk Skarżyński for patients who are unable to hear medium or medium and high pitch sounds and therefore encounter serious difficulties in understanding speech, as well as in daily communication with their environment. Whereas effective communication is crucial in development of modern societies, the percentage of people with hearing impairment is growing – especially among aging populations. The method of treating partial deafness according to Prof. Skarżyński’s recommendations is an opportunity for millions of disabled people to restore a completely efficient sense of hearing and regain normal life. On that account, this treatment program is undoubtedly one of the biggest achievements of modern science and medicine.
The phenomenon behind treating partial deafness according to Prof. Skarżyński’s recommendations is based on preserving the existing hearing of patients within low or low and medium frequencies and complementing it with a so-called electric hearing which is formed after cochlear implantation. The surgery involves placement of the implant receiver in the temporal bone and atraumatic insertion of the electrode into the inner ear (cochlea). The external component of the cochlear implant system which the patient carries behind his or her ear is called a speech processor and it is responsible for converting sounds into electrical impulses which are then sent through the skin and to the inserted electrode by means of electromagnetic waves. This allows for electrical stimulation of the vestibulocochlear nerve and further transfer of information to the cerebral cortex where the reception of auditory information occurs.
The key moment of surgery is embedding the electrode array in the part of the cochlea where auditory cells responsible for receiving moderate and high frequencies were damaged, leaving out intact areas of the ear that are capable of receiving low or low and medium frequencies. The first studies in this field were presented by Prof. Henryk Skarżyński in 1997 on a conference in New York – since then, implementation of the treatment program has begun. Since 2002, as the first in the world, the professor has been conducting surgeries on standard cases of partial deafness, that is, on patients with socially efficient existing hearing up to 500 Hz and further developed types of partial deafness with existing hearing up to 1000 Hz and 1500 Hz.
For over a dozen years the hearing restoration surgeries performed in Poland have been transmitted live as a part of the global telemedicine network for otolaryngology (LION), as well as during medical conferences, world congresses and specialized surgical training called Window Approach Workshop. The phenomenon of combining the remaining natural hearing with the one acquired as a result of cochlear implant placement and electric stimulation was possible thanks to the development of a specific surgical technique called “six steps by Skarżyński” which uses a minimally invasive approach to embed the electrode without the risk of damaging the healthy part of the cochlea.
Combination of the patient’s remaining acoustic hearing with electric hearing gives surprisingly good results. This treatment allows patients who could perceive only several percent of the auditory information to now freely communicate with others, talk on the phone, enjoy music or even pursue their artistic passions such as playing on various instruments, singing or composing. Some of them even rival professional musicians which can be seen for example during an International Music Festival “Beats of Cochlea”.
The first surgical placement of cochlear implant and classic complementation of natural hering with electric auditory perception was performed by Prof. Henryk Skarżyński in 2002. Moreover, he was the first surgeon in the world to conduct this procedure on a child in 2004. Ever since he has performed over 4.5 thousand of such surgeries, while the World Hearing Center IPPH in Kajetany – founded and supervised by Prof. Skarżyński – has not only stood out as a medical facility with the biggest number of hearing improvement surgeries in the world for the past 16 years but it is also the world leader in treating partial deafness and other hearing disorders. The professor himself has performed over 200 thousand surgical procedures so far.
Prof. Henryk Skarżyński has always paid great attention to popularization of the partial deafness treatment program – it is currently being applied in over 50 otosurgical facilities all over the world. Along with 46 foreign scientists from all seven continents, he has developed the first scale for assessing treatment results in the world and then in 2007 Prof. Skarżyński has commenced organizing the world’s biggest series of international workshops – Window Approach Workshop (WAW). During 50 editions of WAW he has conducted more than a thousand demonstration surgeries which have been observed by over 4 thousand specialists from all seven continents.